Although yesterday was above freezing, a fact that forced the ManFromSnowyLegs and I to go to the hated waxless cross country skis on our little ski workout, the winter has been nicely frigid. So cold in fact, that all the outdoor skating rinks were open well before Christmas break and guys were ice fishing the weekend after Thanksgiving in many places. I've kind of gotten away from ice fishing but fully expect to take it up again 'When I Have More Time'.....whenever that is. As a kid, the Old Man knew that the fish would really bite right after the ice went on. This would mean shuffling out on the bay with snowshoes, a Stearns life vest, and homemade ice picks on a string around our necks to haul our frozen asses out if we did go through. We did slay the panfish but also incurred the vehement disapproval of my mother, who I'm sure would have liked to have the Old Man committed on a number of occassions.
The ice on my favorite body of water is well ahead of schedule also. The western tip of the lake near Duluth is iced in but its still thin enough so that Coast Guard can clear the way for the big lakers loaded with coal and taconite. The ice between Bayfield and Madeline Island is thickening and for the first time since 1985 the Madeline Island Ferry Line will be shutting down in December. There will be an interim period where the kids get to school and people get to the mainland on the ice sleds (seen above) but then the ice road will be safe enough and free transit will begin. This is a very good thing in my opinion, because there have been winters recently when the ferry has run all winter long due to wimpy winter weather.
There are good things that can happen when a big piece of the lake freezes. Scientists think that the lack of ice cover has been one of the factors in the decreasing lake level over the past few years. It would also cut down on some of the lake effect snow. Somehow, I don't think the folks in the snow belt would mind if they only got 200"(5m) instead of 300" (7.5m). I know the KingOfIronwoodIsland would not mind, since his normal whine as he leaves deer camp early at the end of November is, "I gotta get home and blow the damn snow".
I hope our real winter hangs on. I always dread the January thaw and its snow melting, ice dam building, slush creating havoc. May the snow be good and the ice strong until at least the Ides of March!